Brace yourself. I’m going to brag about my kids, but just for a moment. Or two. Okay, so I have great kids who teach me every day how to be present and enjoy each moment. My seven year old is our little earth angel. Victoria wakes up happy and she goes to bed happy. Everything rolls off her back. I promise I’m not exaggerating. In seven years, she’s never had a temper tantrum or a time out. She’s just this amazing soul who makes everyone smile. Her mantra is “Stay Happy!” When guests leave our house, she runs to the door, waves and says, “Stay Happy!” She writes it on her pictures right next to a smiling sun wearing sunglasses.
I love the message in her mantra. It’s not “Be Happy” nor is it “Hope you’re happy.” Her message assumes that we’re already happy and she’s asking that we maintain that present awareness. I remember last year when my kids waited for weeks for a new movie to open at our local theater. While driving there, I told them I’d take them for ice cream after the movie. But when we arrived and discovered the movie was sold out, sadness ensued. I comforted my two other children and said to Victoria, “You okay honey?” She shrugged, smiled and said, “Of course mommy! This just means we get to the ice cream part quicker.”
My oldest daughter signs her notes and papers “Shine On!” in fancy curly letters reminding us all to fully embrace our inner light. She’s my religious wonder who always asks us if we can pray. When she was two, she took to wearing her rosary beads like a necklace and by the time she was five, she’d memorized all the prayers for the rosary. She sees her angel a lot, believes strongly in fairies, and will set aside toys and clothes to give to the poor almost every month. My youngest little curly top doesn’t have a mantra yet. She prefers to sit on her throne and let us make her happy; luckily we’re all willing court jesters. She’s taught me how to be fearlessly joyful. Nothing scares this kid. This past Thanksgiving, she watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time. I kept her close to me, ready to dart into the kitchen with her when the scary monkey scene came on. But instead, she hopped off my lap, pulled out an imaginary sword and said, “Back off Mr. Monkeys. I am a musketeer and I will fight you!”
Before God gifted me with my little pumpkins, I was happy when things were going well, and I was sad when they weren’t. But they’ve taught me how to be happy in all the moments that comprise our life, to be grateful for the smallest things, to share my light with others, to laugh in the face of fear and to always, always shine on and stay happy.